SC junks plea against acquittal of Peepli Live director Mahmood Farooqui in rape case, calls Delhi HC verdict ‘well written’

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition of a US researcher challenging the Delhi High Court verdict acquitting Peepli Live director Mahmood Farooqui in a 2015 alleged rape case.

The apex court rejected the plea filed by the 30-year-old woman, saying it would not interfere with the high court’s “well-written judgement”.

“We are not satisfied. We will not interfere with the high court verdict. It is a well-written judgement,” the bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao  said.

During the hearing, the woman’s counsel told the bench that a new argument of alleged consensual relation was advanced by Farooqui’s lawyer before the high court and claimed that this issue was not raised before the lower court during the trial.

The Supreme Court bench, however, observed that it was not a case where strangers came, met and did something as both Farooqui and the woman were known to each other. “This is a very hard case. We would like to say that it has been decided extremely well (by the high court),” the top court said.

When the woman’s counsel said the issue was whether there was any consent, the bench observed that there appeared to be a “positive response” which according to her was faked by her. “People give false smiles. How would the other person know that it’s a false response? This is very difficult to understand,” the bench said, adding, “she appeared to have responded in a positive manner”.

When the petitioner’s counsel referred to the email conversation between the woman and Farooqui, the apex court said the record reflects that they were good friends. The bench also referred to one of the communications between them and asked whether she had said “I love you” to Farooqui in one of the emails after the alleged incident.

“How many rape cases you have gone through where the prosecutrix (woman) has said I love you to the alleged accused much after the alleged incident,” the bench asked the counsel and also posed several other queries including how many times the woman had visited Farooqui and had drinks together. The bench was not satisfied with the answers given by the counsel and dismissed the plea, saying no question of law was involved in the matter.

The Delhi High Court had, in September last year, acquitted Farooqui by giving him the “benefit of the doubt”. By doing so, the court had set aside a trial court order sentencing him to seven years in jail for the alleged offence. “It remains in doubt whether such an incident, as has been narrated… took place, and if at all it had taken place, it was without the consent/will of the prosecutrix (the woman), and if it was without the consent. whether the appellant (Farooqui) could discern/understand the same,” Justice Ashutosh Kumar had said while acquitting Farooqui.

The judgment had also stated that “No” might not always mean no and that there were examples of “woman’s behaviour (where)… a feeble ‘no’ may mean a ‘yes’,” in cases of past intimacy.

An FIR had been registered against the director on June 19, 2015 based on the complaint of the woman, a research scholar from a US-based university, following which he was arrested. She had alleged that Farooqui had raped her on March 28, 2015, at his Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar residence. The trial in the case began on September 9, 2015 and Farooqui was convicted of rape on July 30, 2016. He then filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the order.

The trial court had said the testimony of the woman was “truthful and credible and can be relied upon as being of sterling worth for the purpose of conviction of the accused”.

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